This is psychologically dangerous stuff, and a great deal of enjoyment comes from revelling in Prude’s excesses. That comes to a point, though.
Prude would be a supergroup, if only its members were a little more famous. The group is fronted by Jared Louche from CHEMLAB, and also features Matt Fanale from Caustic, guitarist Marc Olivier from London’s Plastic Heroes, and electronics specialist Phil DiSiena from Infocollapse / Cyanotic. Together, they make a terrific clamour on the dark age of consent. (the band has a fondness for lower case letters and putting periods after the name of the album and all of their songs). And, clearly, Prude wants you to remember the past. Songs are titled as such: “cigarette burn heart.” (which appears to reference Captain Beefheart’s “Ashtray Heart”, if not another song with the same name by Placebo), “knife on mars.” (which reference’s David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”), and “sniper (at the gates of dawn).” (Pink Floyd, anyone?). There’s a very glammy, gritty feel to the record, a throwback to the likes of T. Rex, if only Marc Bolan have a penchant for snorting a mountain of cocaine and put back Molotov cocktails for breakfast. This is psychologically dangerous stuff, and a great deal of enjoyment comes from reveling in Prude’s excesses. That comes to a point, though. There’s a price to pay for excess, after all. Prude does push the envelope once too often, and opening track “PLUSism.” is a mess. How do I put this diplomatically? Um, the song is outright terrible, an abomination, something that should have been aborted and left to wither and die on the floor.
So what makes the song so awful, you might ask? Well, musically, it is simply a sonic collage of garish electronics and squanky guitar. But that isn’t the worst part. The worst part is Louche’s speak singing a pile of garbage, seeming random prose of life’s great excesses. And it goes on for a good six minutes. Sigh. “What the fuck is this?” are the first lyrics, and then Louche goes on to make a laundry list of the most offensive things that could come to the human mind (“I’ll tell you what’s important,” Louche says), including imagery of people having violent sex. He pretty much goes through every swear word known to man (including the c-word and p-word for female private parts). There’s also reference to “faggots” and “rectal Invader Zim”, and if this wasn’t just a song that was just a puking up of the most inane things that could come to mind, I’d go on to say that the track is misogynistic and homophobic in equal measure. Lumping in homosexuality with people screwing at gunpoint? Man, I don’t know. To be truthful, I’m not sure what the point of the song is, other than to get a Parental Advisory sticker lobbed on the album. Which is too bad, as the rest of the record is actually a lot more musical and lyrically coherent to a degree. I guess “PLUSism.” exists solely to appeal to cool, undiscerning teenaged listeners in need of a good giggle, in much the same way that my peers, back in the day, would play Ministry’s live version of “Stigmata” – you know, the one with the countless use of the f-word – over my high school’s PA system before morning homeroom just for shock effect, and to see if the school’s administrators were paying attention.
Anyhow, if you were to cut “PLUSism.” from the record (and please do if you’re ordering this online), you get what would be the album’s first bonafide track in “great eraser (in the sky).” This song makes Prude a force to be reckoned with. With its scrappy, dragged-across-the-dirt guitars and a head nodding chorus, this is the sort of thing that could have come out of the industrial scene of the early ‘90s, when bands such as Ministry and Nine Inch Nails were looking to metal for inspiration. While the song isn’t metal, the sentiment and feel is there. There’s a snarkiness and smarminess to the song and it is a propulsive blast of glam. The other track that makes a great impact comes at the very end of the record. “kings of the republic of nowhere.” is an acoustically strummed song that rises into a boisterous chorus, and it could point the way to a new approach for the second album (if we ever get there). “knife on mars.”, meanwhile, is a kind of druggy piece of rock and roll (“Pills tumbling out of a Hello Kitty bag,” goes a memorable lyric on the piece) and is wholly pleasing. “sniper (at the gates of dawn).” is a funky, chicken-scratch stab at rock and roll of the sort that would have made headway in the disco era.
Thus, the dark age of consent. is an album that does have its share of successes. It’s just too bad that the group’s opening shot is just so scatterbrained and patently offensive for the sake of being offensive, as it brings down the appeal of the record by a notch. It’s strictly hubris, when the start of the record needs a shot of heft. I know that I’m harping on about one song, but it almost breaks the album and doesn’t invite the listener to continue on to the rest of the material, which is actually quite pleasurable. There’s a strut and swagger to Prude’s songs, and the group pays homage to the rock stars of old that lived a life of glamorous excess. While there isn’t anything particularly glamorous about this album, it is very glammy in texture, as though the members of the group wore tattered women’s clothing and had smeared eyeliner and mascara dripping like sweat off their collective faces.
Whether or not Prude is strictly a one-off or if they have more albums in reserve remains to be seen, but the dark age of consent. is a good record that could have been much, much better if only someone in the producer’s chair encouraged the group to be more focused, and ditch the stream-of-though lyricism. The collective minds of Prude are dark indeed, they just need to sharpen that and say something that has meaning. Still, Prude is rude and those who enjoy old time rock and roll rubbed in with diesel and dust will come to this platter quite hungry. Everyone else, particularly the targets of Prude’s somewhat hateful venting, might only wish that the dark age of consent. delivered more fully on its promise and actually knew what it was saying instead of spewing a whole load of nothingness.